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Technical Paper

Neighboring Mobile Robot Cell with Drilling and Fastening

Electroimpact, in collaboration with Boeing, has developed an advanced robotic assembly cell, dubbed “The Quadbots.” Using Electroimpact’s patented Accurate Robot technology and multi-function end effector (MFEE), each robot can drill, countersink, inspect hole quality, apply sealant, and insert fasteners into the part. The cell consists of 4 identical machines simultaneously working on a single section of the Boeing 787 fuselage, two on the left, and two on the right. These machines employ “collision avoidance” a new feature in their software to help them work more synchronously. The collision avoidance software uses positional feedback from external safety rated encoders mounted to the motors on the robot. From this feedback, safe spaces, in the form of virtual boundaries can be created. Such that a robot will stop and wait if the adjacent robot is in, or going to move into its programmed work envelope.
Journal Article

Integrated Ball-Screw Based Upset Process for Index Head Rivets Used in Wing Panel Assembly

A new high speed forming process for fatigue rated index head rivets used in wing panel assembly using ball-screw based servo squeeze actuation has been developed. The new process is achieved using a combination of force and position control and is capable of forming to 40,000 lbs at rates of up to 200,000 lbs/second whilst holding the part location to within +/− 10 thousandths of an inch. Multi-axis riveting machines often have positioning axes that are also used for fastener upset. It is often the case that while a CNC is used for positioning control, another secondary controller is used to perform the fastener upset. In the new process, it has been possible to combine the control of the upset process with the machine CNC, thus eliminating any separate controllers. The fastener upset force profile is controlled throughout the forming of the rivet by using a closed loop force control system that has a load cell mounted directly behind the stringer side forming tool.
Technical Paper

Improved Briles Rivet Forming Using High-Speed Force Feedback and Improved Die Geometry

Electroimpact and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) have produced a new riveting process for the forming of Briles type rivets in Boeing 777 and 777X fuselage assemblies. The Briles rivet is typically used for fuselage assembly and is unique in that it has a self-sealing head. Unlike conventional headed rivets such as the NAS1079, this fastener does not require aircraft sealant under the head to be fluid tight. This unique fastener makes for a difficult fastening process due to the fact that interference must be maintained between the hole and fastener shank, as well as along the sides of the fastener head. Common issues with the formed fasteners include gapping under the fastener head and along the shank of the fastener. Electroimpact has employed a host of different technologies to combat these issues with Briles fastening. First, Electroimpact’s patented “Air Gap” system allows the machine to confirm that the head of the rivet is fully seated in the countersink prior to forming.
Journal Article

Automatic Bolt Feeding on a Multifunction Flextrack

One of the largest advancements in the use of the Flextrack technology is the addition of automated fastener installation on the Multifunction Flextrack made by Electroimpact. The new Flextrack installs SSTF (Single Sided Temporary Fasteners) into the holes it drills without removing clamp-up force from the workpiece. This is the first Flextrack to drill and install fasteners and its functionality goes beyond even these functions. The fasteners, SSTF bolts, are increasingly replacing more cumbersome and manual tools for temporary fastening of aerospace components during assembly. They provide doweling, clamp-up, and feature a compact head to facilitate machine installation. The new Multifunction Flextrack carries the bolts on the machine head as opposed to being fed through a feed tube. A Bolt Cartridge System carries up to 80 bolts onboard the Flextrack and the Cartridges can be quick changed for use with several different diameters.
Technical Paper

777X Control Surface Assembly Using Advanced Robotic Automation

Fabrication and assembly of the majority of control surfaces for Boeing’s 777X airplane is completed at the Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) site in St. Louis, Missouri. The former 777 airplane has been revamped to compete with affordability goals and contentious markets requiring cost-effective production technologies with high maturity and reliability. With tens of thousands of fasteners per shipset, the tasks of drilling, countersinking, hole inspection, and temporary fastener installation are automated. Additionally and wherever possible, blueprint fasteners are automatically installed. Initial production is supported by four (4) Electroimpact robotic systems embedded into a pulse-line production system requiring strategic processing and safeguarding solutions to manage several key layout, build and product flow constraints.